SEOUL, May 24 (Yonhap) -- China is increasingly suspicious of North Korea trying to get in the way of China's ascent as a global power and the resulting decay in China-North Korea relations may open unprecedented opportunities to mobilize China's cooperation in denuclearizing the North, a historian said Wednesday.
"Great powers, particularly rising great powers ... what they cannot easily tolerate is friends and allies getting in the way of larger pictures. This is what I think has changed with regard to the relations" between Beijing and Pyongyang, Odd Arne Westad, a Harvard University history professor specialized in Asia, said in a lecture arranged by the Korean Foundation for Advanced Studies.
Traditionally, China has long preferred the status quo on the northern half of the Korean Peninsula, preserving the situation involving North Korea, primarily because of its fears over Korean reunification under the control of the United States and instability that could follow a rapid collapse of the North Korean regime, according to the professor.
But the China-North Korea relations have never been "as bad as they are today and they seem to be getting worse very quickly," the professor noted.
China increasingly deems North Korea trying to get in the way of China's ascendancy rather than being a geographical asset to buffer its borders.
China is also aware North Korea's internal discussion portraying China as an enemy in the North Korean nuclear project, according to the professor.
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